'Cycle' of life –
Bike committee strives for two-wheeler safety
Riding a bicycle can be good for your health. Riding a bicycle can also be hazardous for your health, particularly when "sharing" the roads with cars and trucks.
This dichotomy provides the stimulus for the City of Marco Island's Bike Path Ad Hoc Committee, attempting to increase the opportunities for healthful cycling, and create conditions to minimize the unhealthy consequences of bicycle/vehicle mishaps.
As part of the bike path committee's meeting on Friday, June 8, city project manager Jim Miller presented a list of the top eight dangers presented by bicycling, along with suggestions for how best to alleviate them. Number one on the list is "vehicles not yielding to pedestrians at signal intersections and stop signs." Counter measures include publicity via newspaper and signage, along with warnings or tickets from the police force.
Number two, "cyclists traveling the wrong direction in bike lanes," comes back to fault of the cyclist. Of the eight specific dangers listed, four were attributable to cyclist error, two to motorists, and two to pedestrians, who can find themselves on the short end of a bicycle/walker or bicycle/runner collision.
One venue to get out the word on how to ride your bicycle without becoming an accident statistic will be coming up in August. Once again, the city will sponsor a "Bike Rodeo" on August 14 at Mackle Park. Number three on the list of dangers was cyclists (children) under 16 riding bikes without helmets, and free helmets will be given out, supplies permitting, at that event.
Public Works Director Tim Pinter popped his head into the Niles Conference Room briefly at the meeting's beginning, and provided his input on additional funding available in succinct fashion.
"This is my report," said Pinter, holding up his thumb and forefinger to make a zero – no additional money available. But work on safety enhancements for island cyclists is moving forward, explained Miller, particularly the Safe Routes to School project designed to provide better bicycle access to island schools.
After five years, phase one of the project is getting underway, after City Council awarded a contract for the job to Marquee Development. Phase two design work is complete, and awaiting funding through the Florida DOT, with construction anticipated in 2013. The committee discussed including the Marco Island Academy site on SR 92 in Safe Routes to School.
Committee member Phil Kostelnik spoke of the need to fund continuing maintenance.
"It's penny wise and pound foolish to spend millions to build roads, and then give the (public works) director no money to maintain them," he said. Miller said that nationally, 10 to 15 percent of road construction dollars go to pathways and bicycle-related projects, and Marco Island is at 13 percent, "so we're doing okay."